New Stanford program helps district leaders drive change

February 03, 2015

By Brooke Donald

A new program by the graduate schools of education and business develops entrepreneurial leadership skills of superintendents.

How does school leadership impact student achievement? According to recent research, leadership is second only to teaching as a top influencer of student success.

With that in mind, Stanford’s Graduate School of Education (GSE) andGraduate School of Business(link is external) (GSB) have teamed up for an innovative program aimed at strengthening the strategic thinking and problem-solving skills of district leaders and giving them the support they need to drive change and boost achievement among all students.

The new Executive Program for Education Leaders(link is external) (EPEL) targets superintendents and two to three team members from their central office. For the first year, EPEL will focus exclusively on leaders from California school districts. The yearlong program includes both on-campus and distance-learning sessions taught by Stanford faculty and invited speakers who are leaders in the field.

EPEL is one of two programs offered by the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative(link is external) (SELI). The other is the Principal Fellows Program(link is external).

"Most often leadership training in education focuses heavily on managing rather than changing organizations," said Rebecca Katz, executive director of SELI. "Excellent management skills are crucial, of course, but today’s leaders have limited opportunities to interact with researchers to come up with new ways to approach and solve problems."